Steelers’ Mike Tomlin on flags: Some are a ‘joke’

October 13, 2018

At the end of an otherwise-innocuous news conference following a satisfying victory in which his team played by far its best game of the season, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had some choice words about penalties.

Asked about two illegal-hands-to-the-face flags thrown on linebacker Bud Dupree, Tomlin said they “looked like legitimate calls,” and that the Steelers have “got to be better.”

But then, seemingly unsolicited and without going into specifics as to what exactly he was referring to, Tomlin brought up some of the other 14 flags thrown during the 41-17 win against the Atlanta Falcons.

“Some of the other stuff is a joke,” Tomlin said, speaking about penalties. “We got to get better as a National Football League. Man, these penalties are costing people games and jobs. We got to get them correct, and so I’m (ticked) about it, to be quite honest with you, but that’s all I’m going to say on it.”

The Steelers’ T.J. Watt was flagged for roughing the passer on a play in which he went low but appeared to make every attempt to avoid making contact with Matt Ryan. Jon Bostic also received a 15-yard penalty for roughing the Falcons’ quarterback.

The Steelers’ second-longest tenured player, guard Ramon Foster, considered whether the abundance of penalties -- and questionable nature of many of them -- has caused Tomlin to “boil over.”

“I don’t know if it has,” Foster said. “You look at it, evaluate it and decide whether it’s a good call or bad call. (Rules makers) are in limbo, too. They want to protect the integrity of the game and safety of the players.

“The fans are griping, the players are griping and the coaches are griping. It’s almost like you’re playing double dutch with what want to call or not call in a game.”

Two weeks ago, also after a Steelers’ win, Tomlin discussed during his weekly news conference what he views as an overabundance of flags.

“As somebody as appreciates the game and understands we’re in the sports and entertainment business,” Tomlin said Sept. 25, “it is worrisome from the fan perspective. I do worry about what it’s like to watch that game at home, with penalties being administered at the rate that they were.”

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